<history of philosophy, biography> presocratic Greek philosopher (460-370 BC). As the originator of classical atomism, Democritus maintained in opposition to the Eleatics that the universe comprises a plurality of distinct entities that really do move. The haphazard collisions of these individually indestructible atoms, he believed, account for the formation and dissolution of all observable things. Long before its appropriation by Epicurus, this doctrine produced an attitude toward human life that earned Democritus a reputation as "the laughing philosopher." Recommended Reading: Paul Cartledge, Democritus (Routledge, 1999) and C. C. W. Taylor, The Atomists: Leucippus and Democritus (Toronto, 1999).
[A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names]
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